The coronavirus has taken over the entire world. There’s basically no country, sector, or industry left untouched by the pandemic. Certainly sports, and specifically basketball, are no different. The NBA season was suspended indefinitely on March 11, and the NCAA Tournament was of course canceled. We’re starting to see a vision of what the future is going to look like for the NBA (Disney?), and scouts haven’t stopped sizing up talent.
Who knows what the quality of the games when sports return after this layoff, but since the players can’t physically get back on the court yet, we can only speculate. But avid basketball fans who have been hungry for some exciting news got some. How about playing with your favorite virtual teams and players? Basketball has been added to esports, and BETBY, an online real money casino which decided to expand its game selection by adding NBA products. This gives the fans the opportunity to play with not just current teams, but some classic teams as well. Now they can enjoy basketball games and feel that adrenaline once again, and between those matches, they can enjoy other games too. So even without live sports, it’s all covered.
As for the NBA, the search for talent never sleeps, and an old name from the old Big East footprint is making some waves. Remember Greg Whittington? Probably not. In one game for the Hoyas against Syracuse in 2011, he scored 3 points in 29 minutes of work. He played only a year-and-a-half of college hoops, although he was a highly sought after recruit in the Northeast. After two busted stops in college basketball he needed a lifeline. But the story doesn’t end there. He’s still playing hoops, and is now a decade later in line for an NBA deal.
This 27-year-old power forward from Maryland managed to impress the scouts during a short campaign with the Turkish team Galatasaray in the EuroCup while playing against some of the toughest and most skilled competition overseas. He managed to impress scouts by averaging 12.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in the Turkish League contests while shooting 52.8% from the 3-point range. The 6’9 basketball player has had a long and winding journey through basketball. He was a highly coveted player from the DC area in ’10.
At the time the Washington Post wrote, “Yet now, somewhat suddenly, the 6-foot-9, 195-pound Whittington is perhaps the Washington area’s most sought-after recruit.
Maryland wants him. Georgetown several weeks ago joined the pursuit with Coach John Thompson III driving to Columbia for a recent game. Texas last week sent an assistant coach to watch Whittington play and plans to host him for an official visit soon. Clemson and DePaul are the other schools Whittington is considering.”
He ended up at Georgetown, but did not last long. He was suspended for academics, and then dismissed from the team. He enrolled at Rutgers, but also left there under controversy. Perhaps it should have been predictable. This passage from the Post ten years ago looms large. “Reed-thin, tall and lanky, the teenager usually preferred hanging out with friends in his Columbia neighborhood. He still does not believe tales of peers getting in the gym early in the morning or late at night for extra practice.”
He sat out an entire season and went undrafted. But the G-League became the starting point of his comeback. He joined Miami Heat for the summer league and managed to score a training camp deal with the team that fall. He went along to spend the rest of the season in the G League. He was later acquired by the Sioux Falls Skyforce as an affiliate player of the Heat. And he has since traveled and made stops in countries like Japan, Australia, and Israel.
Last season, he averaged 18.4 points per game for Hapoel Galil in Israel. He also led the league in rebounding with 9.6 per contest, shooting 41.5% from deep in 30 contests. He was named the best forward in the league, and after a rocky road Whittington has proven himself very versatile and selfless. Amazing considering where he came from.
Agent Jerry Dianis has spoken out about the possibility of Greg signing a contract with the NBA, which he says is highly probable. Dianis thinks Whittington will be the most coveted free agent outside of the NBA because of his versatility and ability to shoot the ball.
But timing is everything and while Whittington is a strong candidate for an NBA contract, the basketball world is on pause amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. But the NBA could be returning as early as July, and Whittington could finally see his dream of playing in the NBA realized in the fall.